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Cryptomenysis patefacta: or the art of secret information disclosed without a key.

Containing, plain and demonstrative rules, for decyphering all manner of secret writing. With exact methods, for resolving secret intimations by signs or gestures, or in speech. As also an inquiry into the secret ways of conveying written messages: and the several mysterious proposals for secret information, mentioned by Trithemius, &c. By J. F.

London, printed for Daniel Brown, 1685 Stock Code: 140382
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First edition of this early work of cryptography. Falconer states in his epistle to the reader that he writes Cryptomenysis because he finds the subject diverting, though his dedication to the Earl of Middleton gives the work a political flavour: he serves Charles II and hopes to keep the royal family safer with unbreakable cyphers. Alongside cyphers, various methods of concealing messages are unveiled, including Egyptian hieroglyphs and finger alphabets. He considers methods of the ancients, including tattooing a message on skin and painting over it, or upon a shaved head and allowing the hair to grow. At the end Falconer makes clear his debt to previous cryptographers with an analysis of the cryptographic and steganographic writings of Johannes Trithemius (1462-1516), a final flourish of esotericism.
This copy is from the celebrated computing library of Erwin Tomash (1921-2012), with his booklabel to the front pastedown. A nice provenance - in 1950 Tomash joined the Engineering Research Associates, founded by a group of US Navy codebreakers, which developed military computers to crack code. Tomash's records show he bought the book from E. M. Lawson, East Hagbourne, UK, 1986.

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Octavo (171 x 109 mm). Contemporary blind-ruled speckled sheep, unlettered, edges speckled brown.


Complete with initial and terminal blanks. Neat early ownership initials to title page, residue of removed bookplate to front inner board. Light wear at extremities and couple of patches of loss to sheep, inner hinges a little tender with sheep holding firm but cords gone, some very faint staining at fore edge of pages else contents crisp and unmarked. A very good copy.


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